Bias in heart disease study discovered

Columnist Amira Dabbas

Columnist Amira Dabbas

A researcher at University of California, San Francisco recently discovered documents from the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, that suggest the last five decades of research regarding nutrition and heart disease may have been influenced dramatically. There was a bias happening right under our noses, and no one had a clue.
These documents showed in 1967, Harvard scientists were paid to publish a review of sugar, fat and heart research. The Sugar Association picked the individual studies they wanted to use to publish in the New England Journal of Medicine, and were able to diminish the correlation between sugar and heart health, blaming heart disease on fat alone.
Issues such as these might seem insignificant because they don’t affect our everyday life. However, what we may not be considering is that we are literally being fed lies. Something some of us might use every single day, in our coffee and cooking, might have a greater impact on our lives than we ever thought, simply because scientists didn’t include many studies in the New England Journal of Medicine. This is serious, as cardiovascular diseases cause more deaths every year than all forms of cancer combined.
According to the Heart Foundation, heart disease is the leading cause of death of men and women in the United States. This is our number one killer, but we’re not being told the truth about it or how to prevent it properly. There might be a whole other aspect of preventing heart disease that we have been blissfully unaware of for the past 50 years.
A similar situation in the past was when the tobacco industry tried to deny the dangers of cigarettes by releasing studies funded by their own company. These studies originally denied many of the health hazards which cigarettes are known for today, and why wouldn’t they? The very livelihood of the company itself depended on those studies. Why wouldn’t they want to fund their own medical research study to clear their conscience and make the general population feel secure?
Obviously sugar doesn’t have the same health hazards as tobacco, but the same research-based bias is still there, just concerning different products. Both companies have something in common: they need profit, so covering up what will prevent consumers from purchasing their product isn’t too surprising.
This isn’t an isolated case when it comes to the rest of the our food industry. Companies such as Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola Co., even agricultural companies such as beef and berry companies often fund studies that are published in medical literature.
“Food company sponsorship, whether or not intentionally manipulative, undermines public trust in nutrition science,” stated Nestle, a longtime critic of scientific studies funded by companies.
It isn’t okay for us to be told half-truths about products we use in our everyday lives, especially products that have to do with our health.
We have to look out for not only ourselves, but for future generations.